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The Best Bars and Pubs in Durham


Since Emma and I met back in 2009, Durham has been my third city of choice; coming last behind Lincoln and York.  Having now moved into the area, Durham is essentially my adopted home so I’ll be spending a lot more time in this historic city.  As everyone knows, the English like a good alcoholic drink.  In fact, we love it so much that we almost have the highest binge drinking rate in the world.  Whole weekends are centred around nights out but, as I get older, I’m much more interested in a day session of drinking.  If you’re visiting or already live here, I’ve put together a list of the best bars and pubs in Durham.Obviously, it’s a small city so the bars aren’t quite on the level of Newcastle or York but the crowds here are much quieter! You may just prefer it!

The City

Located just outside of the city centre, this is a great place for an early evening drink.  I love the leather couches and the relaxed atmosphere.  They’ve even got a Thai kitchen at the moment!

The City Durham

The Boat Club

This is definitely one of my favourites especially since the refurbishment.  You’ll be able to guess from the name that this bar is situated next to the water.  The terraces have an amazing view over the river up to the castle.  Relaxing during the day with a party atmosphere on the night, this place is really for everyone!

The Boat Club Durham

Whisky River

Opposite the Boat Club, Whisky River is great for evening cocktails but can get very busy! I still love this place though.

Tin of Sardines

Gin is still huge in the UK and here you can have any one of 200 gins with 50 mixers whilst sat in the tiniest bar in Durham.  I mean this place is absolutely tiny they even say it could be the smallest in the world.

Tin of Sardines Durham

Old Toms

Sticking with the Gin theme, this is the other side of the city from the Tin of Sardines but very quirky.  Absolutely loads of different types of Gin as is expected these days but with the addition of cheese and meat platters.  Old Toms has an outdoor area with another view of the river and the castle.  You’ll notice that the castle and cathedral are really imposing in Durham; you can see them from almost everywhere!

Old Tom's Durham

Head of Steam

A great chain of pubs with an emphasis on world beers and ales.  This is more of a hidden pub in Durham near the bus station but should be high up on your list to visit.  We normally either start or end a good drinking session here.

Ye Old Elm Tree

If you’re after a more traditional English pub, this is the place for you.  I’ve literally only just found this pub recently as it’s not quite on the tourist trail.  It’s up a steep hill but really is beautiful.  If you’ve made it this far and find it isn’t for you, nip across the road to the Angel. Yes, it’s a rock bar!

Ye Old Elm Tree Durham

Still Thirsty?

If you’re up for having a late one, head over to the Walkergate area where it’s all about the party!  If not, and you’re heading back home on the train, stop by the new Station Bar for a swift drink.

Well, there you have it. My take on the best bars and pubs in Durham which hopefully should help if you decide to visit! Durham may be small but it’s a great city for a little weekend away.

If you’re planning on staying up north, why not visit York too? There’s heaps of good bars and pubs that I’m sure you will love!

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the best bars and pubs in durham

The Best Bars and Pubs in Durham

12 thoughts on “The Best Bars and Pubs in Durham”

  1. I grew up in Durham and it is fair to say that Newcastle completely overshadows Durham when it comes to the reputation of a night out, but Durham too has some little gems you just have to scout out! The whole city is so charming in a completely different way ♥ x

  2. Sounds great, I’ve passed on the train a couple of times and it looked interesting. Maybe I’ll have to make a trip up North soon and check a few of these out 🙂

  3. Oh wow you live in Durham? I live in Newcastle just down the road! We went to Durham drinking last Saturday and it was so busy. My boyfriend is obsessed with the Shakespeare pub as in his uni days that’s where they went drinking… I wasn’t so sure! Wish I’d had your guide a week ago to convince him of some other options ha! I’m going to follow your blog now, I love your writing style. Melis

    1. Yeah! Just outside Durham. We’re actually going into Durham this Saturday for drinks just as an official ‘welcome home’. Someone mentioned the Shakespeare pub to me the other day and how small it was! Where did you go? I love Newcastle, I was there very recently at By The River Brew which is now my favourite place!Thank you again!Jamie

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